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Howzzat!!

FPJ Bureau | Updated on: Sunday, June 02, 2019, 08:03 AM IST

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THIS BOOK EXPLORES THE SLEAZY WORLD OF MATCHFIXING THAT HAS TAINTED THE MUCH- BELOVED GAME OF CRICKET SINCE TIME IMMEMORIAL.

Sumeet Naik

J Joshuva Island Kings, the weakest of all the teams, led by an out- of- form pa

ce bowler Mark Mash, beats a highly fancied, talented and aggressive team like the Ben Islands Maharajas in a thrilling finish – a one ball win. One can ask how is that possible or simply grab a copy of Howzzat!!. The writers through this novel makes an attempt to re- introduce readers to the murkier side cricket. Most of which we have heard it in the past, seeing it in the present and suspect that it would exist in the future as well Howzzat!! centres on a cricket scandal in the United Islands, an archipelago of eight islands in the Indian Ocean. Just as we have our very own Indian Premier League ( IPL), the United Islands have the cash- rich United Cricket League ( UCL).

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The stakes are high and a number of film stars, businessmen, bureaucrats, former cricketers and illegal operators bet massively over illegally telephone lines while a cricket match is in progress.

Match fixing seems to be a norm in the United Islands, where money earned is usually parked in tax havens and is routed through fictitious companies with great deal of finesse to avoid scrutiny.

Here begins, an 18- monthlong operation, Crick Rock, under the expertise of Sameer Shinde, the western regional head of United Islands revenue enforcement agency known as Economic Offences Directorate ( EOD) whose main task is to expose the wrong doings of Dinesh Kumar ( DK) who is at the helm of UCL. Written in first person, the novel gives an account about how Shinde manages to bring DK to book.

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It traverses the various islands that constitute United Islands and across the Indian Ocean to Mauritius as it penetrates a world of drugs and espionage. From plating a mole named Rochelle Cains in DKs den to maintain a close watch on his betting and match- fixing network to Shinde posing himself as cocaine trafficker, every trap laid at various junctures keeps the reader guessing.

One of the interesting chapters in the novel, is the manipulation during the biding by the franchises for the formation of the new teams to be playing UCL for the coming season. Where in DK carries out a oneon one meeting with every interested franchise to make sure that of the 40 per cent share, 10 per cent is reserved for his family, another 10 per cent routed to the political powers that run the UCL, and the remaining 20 per cent is collectively paid to the Governing Council members.

This novel takes a reader through various stages of investigations, exposing the murkier scene behind the game of cricket. And while doing so, much care has been taken by the writers to keep the narration as simple as possible for the readers. Amidst lots of drinking and eating ( range of delicacies) mentioned at various stages by the characters involved in the plot, the writers seem to have managed to get a perfect blend of spice to its readers.

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From a laymans pint of view, one do start getting an impression that most of it mentioned in this novel is somewhere close to the things that are happening in our day to day cricketing arena including some of the characters.

The only flaw one could spot in this novel is introduction of too many characters ( names) at one go. It makes the read a little taxing on the brain. Ideally the writers could have introduced these important faces in a due course of time.

Overall, its a great weekend read, to be read munching popcorn. One does wonder about how long will it take for this book to end up as Bollywood movie script? And if it does, you have already fixed it all… Howzzat?

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Published on: Sunday, July 17, 2011, 05:30 AM IST